Cast: Margo Robbie, Jared Leto, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Kinnaman
Director: David Ayer
Warner Bros/DC Entertainment
David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is what happens when you crib from Marvel’s playbook and miss the pages that tell you how all the right moves are supposed to come together. Maybe it’s unfair to compare Suicide Squad to Guardians of the Galaxy, but look, we all knew there was some mirroring going on when we saw that first trailer with the Guardians-esque rock music. It gets some of these concepts right, but ultimately, Suicide Squad is a great cast and concept wasted on an unfinished script.
Suicide Squad is a direct follow-on from Batman vs. Superman, based on the United States’ realization that the day is coming when the wrong metahuman is going to go rogue. In preparation for this inevitability, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles a crack team of rogues and lunatics, namely Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Diablo (Jay Hernandez) and the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). Under the guidance of Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnamen) and backed up by Japanese assassin Katana (Karen Fukuhara), the team undergoes its baptism of fire when one of their own betrays them. Suicide Squad is, literally and figuratively, a film about dealing with the Devil to reach your goals, with a constant one-upping of exactly who the devil is in this story. Oh, and the Joker keeps popping up.
There really was room for some good ideas to be massaged into a great script with Suicide Squad. Consistent throughout the story is an ongoing cat-and-mouse game of who the film’s true “bad guy” is in a story crammed with various villains. Everyone’s got an agenda, from Viola Davis’ delightfully ruthless Waller to Jared Leto’s “what the fuck am I watching here?” take on the Joker. Everyone betrays everyone, and in a plot filled with evil, a team of assassins and crazy people has to dig deep to find whether there’s anything good within them.
That said, the plot never cohesively gels in a way that gives you that much nuance. What the story lacks in cohesion, it overcompensates for in flash and bang. Suicide Squad brings an excess of neon colors and humorous on-screen text, and just a little too much crazy. Throughout all the spectacle of the visuals, the movie never pauses to dig deep into itself to find a heart that the audience can resonate with. Harley Quinn is loco for the Joker, but we never delve into why. Katana is a cold jerk, but we never get the why. Boomerang is humorously self-centered, but…you get the idea. And this team somehow, inexplicably, comes together in a 10-minute action montage before going right to climax.
I hate to go back to Guardians, but that was Marvel’s eighth offering and the studio had well-established its “brand” by that point. Guardians was at a point where the studio could begin to experiment and feature a story-specific soundtrack and sentient trees and other oddities that were goofy and yet very, very Marvel. Suicide Squad is only DC’s third movie, and nobody knows what DC Entertainment stands for beyond dark, sepia-toned action sequences. We get a neat soundtrack, but not one that’s tied to the heart of the film the way Guardians’ songs were explicitly tied to a specific element of the story.
Nor does Suicide Squad make sufficient use of its actors, either in part or as a unified team. The biggest failure is the inability to exploit Will Smith to his full potential. Oh, Squad brings back the best of Smith that we got through the 1990s and early 2000s: he’s funny, an action hero, and he has heart. It’s just that the movie really should have made him the focal point of the story instead of sharing too much time with Margot Robbie’s crazy Harley (who’s good, but again, suffering from an undeveloped story). Guardians packed a lot of emotion and likeability into its cast in a few short hours. Suicide Squad can barely figure out what to do with a cast twice that size, and we don’t grow to love them the way we did Groot and Drax.
Honestly, the cast is fine, and there’s a lot to like in parts even if the pieces never assemble. Jay Hernandez brings a decent performance as Diablo, with a tragic past that’s good, but developed too late in the story. Viola Davis comes as close as we’re going to get to a perfect portrayal of Amanda Waller on the big screen, and any sequel must bring her back to be successful. And most surprisingly, Cara Delevingne brings an amazing performance as the split-personality June Moon/Enchantress. It’s a weird and incredibly disturbing take on the character, adding a remarkably creepy element to the story even if it’s hampered by a typical “Hey, I’m evil” plot.
In the end, though, Suicide Squad is a rote offering from DC Entertainment that took a lot of chances but just didn’t do enough preparation to reach the goal. It’s said that the film was quickly re-edited when fans negatively responded to the grimness of Batman vs. Superman. Perhaps we’ll never know, but it’s possible that the rumored panicked re-edit may have warped a great movie into the thing we’re getting this weekend.
Rating: Two bomb implants out of five.
I’m a comic movie fan without a comic book background so I’m speaking to movie goers who are looking for a good fun movie, not necessarily an accurate adaptation. I had high expectations for this film based on the pool of amazing talent that makes up the cast of Suicide Squad. I was also expecting outstanding CGI/FX based on other DC comic films. I was not disappointed on either account.
Viola Davis gives a fiercely intense Amanda Waller, the head intelligence agent pulling all the strings. Waller grants the audience a quick glimpse into the key team members lives . She shows how she was easily able to manipulate each into joining the Squad. Not a lot of time was spent explaining back stories, but the key factors were given so that a non-comic fan could keep up with the fast paced action.
Director David Ayer did a phenomenal job of dodging in and out of the action and battle scenes. Resulting in a strong pull between love and what happens when love is taken away. This particular dynamic tugs at your heart and tickles your funny bone. Cinematographer Roman Vasyanov blows your mind with cars, the subway, helicopters, buildings, and a few things (which I won’t spoil for you) exploding all over the place.
Will Smith’s Deadshot definitely impressed me. You can scrap that tester film Hancock out the window. Smith absolutely held the Suicide Squad together. He was funny and charismatic while playing a cold-hearted sniper who teaches you there’s no light without the dark.
Jared Leto’s Joker and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn are my favorite pairing in the DC universe so far. There is very little dialog between the two but they still were able to express a deep connection and obsessive love. While Harley Quinn was really funny (often at the most inappropriate times). Leto’s Joker was acceptable. He wasn’t the kind of Joker I expected. Leto played a calculated ruthless psychopath of a Joker, but I felt it was missing the “funny” in his character. I wanted a couple take away one-liners, which just didn’t happen.
I really admire the make-up on Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) with his chest and neck being white like the underbelly of a real reptile. This seems so obvious yet seldom have I seen it done so well. It’s also worth mentioning the transformation of Dr. June Moone into Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) as well as Chato Lantana into El Diablo (Jay Hernandez). El Diablo absolutely had the better evolution with his fiery change from gang member to what looked more like a Mayan sun-god.
Without question, I recommend seeing Suicide Squad so I am giving this movie 4 Jokers out of 5.